Coronavirus has an ‘HIV-like mutation’ which allows it to attack HUMAN CELLS
Chinese researchers say Covid-19 may ‘use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV’ (Image: Rex Features)
The coronavirus has an ‘HIV-like’ mutation which helps it to bind with human cells at a terrifyingly effective rate, Chinese scientists have claimed.
A new study from Nankai University alleged that Covid-19’s ability to infect cells is up to 1,000 times more powerful than SARS, a coronavirus which caused 774 deaths in 17 countries between November 2002 and July 2003.
The new coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China, and has now killed 2,800 victims and infected more than 80,000. In a new piece of research, scientists said SARS enters the human body by binding with a protein called ACE2 that exists in human cell membranes.
But the new coronavirus aims for an enzyme called furin – the same enzyme attacked by HIV and ebola. Professor Ruan Jishou and his team at Nankai University found genes in Covid-19 which did not exist in SARS but can be found in both of the viruses responsible for spreading HIV and ebola, according to the South China Morning Post.
‘This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV [the new coronavirus] may be significantly different from the Sars coronavirus in the infection pathway,’ the scientists said in their paper.
‘This virus may use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV.’
The mutation could be ‘the reason why SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious than other coronaviruses’.
‘Whether [the virus] behaves as predicted will need other evidence including experiments,’ an unnamed researcher told the South China Morning Post. ‘The answer will tell how the virus makes us ill.’
Two more coronavirus cases have now been confirmed in the UK, which means that 15 people in the country in total have tested positive for the virus.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: ‘Two further patients in England have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of UK cases to 15.
‘The virus was passed on in Italy and Tenerife and the patients have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres in Royal Liverpool Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, London.’
With the number of confirmed cases growing, here’s what we know about how prepared the UK is for a potential outbreak of the virus, and what experts have said on how worried we should be.